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LME aluminum long positions rebound at end of 2017

London — Net long aluminum positions increased on the London Metal Exchange toward the end of 2017, rebounding from the low levels seen in early December.

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Total net long aluminum positions on the LME rose 6.9% to 200,868 contracts in the week that ended December 29, Commitments of Traders Report data showed Wednesday.

The net long money managers' position stood at 160,160 contracts Friday, up 8,949 lots from a week before, a 5.9% increase.

There was fresh selling of 2,403 contracts on Friday, which was dwarfed by 11,352 contracts of fresh buying by money managers.

The momentum has continued this week, creating a more bullish outlook for LME aluminum prices compared with a few weeks ago. However, a price correction could be expected.

"The aluminum spec long [position] has swiftly risen to 17.5% of open interest, back to levels not seen since November 9; 2017 saw the aluminum long peak register a multi-year high of 44% of [open interest] in early April," according to Marex Spectron's estimates, the brokerage said in its daily note Wednesday.

At the December 28 close, the LME aluminum three-month futures contract reached its highest level since early 2012 at $2,284/mt, up 34% year on year and 13.67% from lows in early December.

As of Wednesday's close, however, the three-month price had retreated to $2,228/mt.

The LME aluminum price increase was fueled by commodity trading adviser buying, along with low LME stocks, a soft dollar and better-than-expected Chinese data.

LME stocks continue to shrink, with live on-warrant stocks standing at 850,975 mt on Wednesday, their lowest level since September 2007. On December 27, warrant cancellations stood at 255,225 mt, up 41,800 mt day on day.

Cancellations took place in southeast Asian LME warehouses -- the majority of them in Busan (57%), followed by Port Klang (37%) and Singapore (6%).

A softer dollar helped boost prices across the base metals complex in recent days. The dollar index started losing momentum last week and fell to the low levels of September this week, standing at 91.87 basis points on Monday before finding support Wednesday.

Better-than-expected Chinese economic data published Tuesday supported prices, with the Caixin Manufacturing PMI increasing at its fastest pace since August at 51.5 basis points.

--Vicky Bakourou,

--Edited by Jason Lindquist,